Scientists Eye New Research Treatments For Melanoma Skin Cancer While Identifying The Disease's Causes

Posted on: 30 June 2015

Your skin, which is also referred to as the epidermis, protects two deeper layers of skin known as the dermis and the subcutis layers. Your skin layer sheds and continuously replaces squamous cells. Melanocyte cells are also produced in the epidermis, and they are susceptible to becoming cancerous. They also make melanin, which gives color to your skin. The basement membrane within your epidermis helps to prevent skin cancer from penetrating the deeper layers of your skin. Sometimes your skin cancer persists and reaches the deeper layers of your skin and spreads throughout your body. 

A Melanoma Link To Childhood UV Exposure

Research results conclude that unlike basal cell carcinoma and its direct link to UV rays from the sun, melanoma skin cancer varies somewhat. Researchers are leaning toward the theory that your melanoma onset may be linked to sun exposure you experienced as a child or teenager. The scholars contend that many people who have melanoma cancer also had an early history of intense sunburns. They suggest that this initial sun exposure may have changed your melanocyte cells, and that predisposes you to having melanoma cells in later years. 

Genetic Link To Melanoma

Scientists are also examining what part genetics might play in developing the disease. They theorize that genetic testing can benefit you if your family has a long and documented history of melanoma skin cancer. Researchers are specifically targeting the BRAF gene because studies pinpoint this gene as the cause for half of all melanomas in this particular category of genes. They concur that new drugs that specifically root out the BRAF gene shrink many melanoma tumors. Other drugs are also being tested for similar usage.

New Drugs Helping Immune System To Destroy Melanoma Cells

Melanoma cells are adept at masking their presence deep in healthy tissues as they spread throughout your body. Scientists say that the cells use a protein called PD-L1 to hide under in order to avoid detection as they invade your immune system. However, newer drugs are now being used to block PD-1 so that your immune system can recognize and destroy melanoma cells.

Studying Other Treatments For Individual Patient Melanoma Types

Additional studies are being conducted that will hopefully aid those patients who have little access to treatment options because of their individual type of melanoma. The studies are aimed at identifying and analyzing a specific patient's tumor at the molecular level. Researchers say they want to identify individually-matched treatments that could emerge from studying the efficiency of treatments they refer to as precision medicinal treatment. Click here for more info.